July 25, 2012

"Just as the Russian aristocracy of the 19th century could be described as living upon a stage, our story unfolds in a dilapidated theatre."

"We shot almost all of the film in this single location, over 100 sets were built within the theater, creating a kind of fluid linearity. You can walk from one house under the stage, straight onto the horse-training ground, or go through a door and there's a Russian landscape."

The important-film packaging for "Anna Karenina" includes a 6-minute clip.

Does Keira Knightley seem like Anna Karenina? We're also getting a "Great Gatsby" this fall, and we'll be invited to contemplate whether Carey Mulligan seems like Daisy? I'm going to go out a limb and predict that Carey Mulligan is more like Daisy than Keira Knightley is like Anna Karenina.

17 comments:

ricpic said...

Anna Karenina would have dismissed Keira Knightly as ne kulturny.

Christopher in MA said...

Russian Ark (2002), directed by Alexander Sokurov.

There is nothing new under the sun.

traditionalguy said...

All the world's a stage.

But when we tire of playing our roles to meet the demands of the other characters playing their roles, then a sabbath rest is exactly what we all need for 14% of our time.

Would the Russian aristocracy role be played today by the Progressive Dem Billionaires club?

Would the rich girl from Kentucky role be played today by the GOP Brahmins club?

All I seem to get to play anymore is the anti-intellectual Tea Party rabel rouser role.

edutcher said...

Sorry, most of the Russian women I've known were more buxom and more built.

Ms Knightley has her charms, but she's no Anna.

EMD said...

I saw the trailer before Moonrise Kingdom.

I was very surprised — it looks really good.

Shanna said...

Does Keira Knightley seem like Anna Karenina?

No. But I didn't care for her as Elizabeth either.

Ann Althouse said...

Keira Knightley doesn't seem like she belongs in the past. She's extremely pretty, but in a modern-day starlet way that seems too manufactured and fragile to have been wholesome in the past.

creeley23 said...

I remember with some fondness "Vanya on 42nd Street", which was Louis Malle's last film (1994) based on David Mamet's version of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya." It was filmed in an abandoned, dilapidated theater on 42nd Street. The film shows the actors arriving at the theater in street clothes, lounging around on stage shooting the breeze, and then, almost seamlessly, the actors morph into their roles, and click! the play begins.

Is Hollywood so desperate that they are resorting to classic remakes?

I'm not optimistic about covering "Anna Karenina" in two or three hours. Tolstoy layered vignette style cries out for the long-arc storytelling we see in shows like "The Sopranos" or "Breaking Bad."

Joe said...

Absolutely, do not care. I'm more interested in Call of Duty, Black Ops II which was advertised before the clip.

CWJ said...

Can't wait for the new Gatsby movie. Baz Luhrman should do a spectacular job. If he can combine his Moulin Rouge opulence with the respect for the material he showed in Romeo + Juliet, then this will be the perfect movie version. The trailer suggests just that, and also that he's got a wonderful cast. Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire look like the perfect Gatsby and Nick in the trailer.

William said...

I think Keira Knightley is a fine actress. Despite having a slender frame, if the part calls for it, she gets naked. That's how you can tell she's serious about her art. Compare her body of work with that of Scarlet Johannson. When do ever see Scarlet in a nude scene? How can anyone take her seriously as an artist?......It's not so difficult to cast Daisy. Most Hollywood actresses make a mess and leave it to others to clean up after the mess. The hard part to cast is Gatsby. The facts of his gangster life and the romance at the center of his existence are contradictory. You'd need a combination of Edward G. Robinson and Montgomery Clift to pull it off. Maybe Brando could have done it or perhaps, in a few years, when Justin Bieber's talent reaches it full flower, but I can't think of any others.

Joan said...

Knightley pleasantly surprised me Pride & Prejudice, since she had so thoroughly annoyed me in the Pirate movies. I think she can do spoiled and crazy very well, so she should make a fine Anna.

It occurs to me I may be confusing Anna Karenina with Madame Bovary, but how different are the characters, really?

yashu said...

creeley23, I too am very fond of "Vanya on 42nd Street." Of course, I love love love Chekhov (perhaps my favorite writer of all time, mostly because of his short stories)-- but this may be my favorite of the filmed or staged performances of Chekhov I've seen (admittedly, not many). You'd think that the notion here (filming as it were not the play but a workshop/ rehearsal of the play, in the actors' street clothes and transitioning in and out of the performance) would be gimmicky, but it's surprisingly effective and moving.

By the way (attention Althouse), "Vanya on 42nd Street" might interest fans of "Dinner with Andre," since it predominantly features the work of Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn. It's based on David Mamet's translation of the play, but what's being filmed is the fruit of Gregory's conception and direction.

Via Wikipedia: "Over the course of three years, director Andre Gregory and a group of actors came together on a voluntary basis in order to better understand Chekhov's work through performance workshops. Staged and filmed entirely within the vacant shell of the then-abandoned New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street in New York City, they enacted the play rehearsal style on a bare stage with the actors in street clothes. Free from any commercial demands, their performances were for an invited audience only. Gregory and Malle decided to document the play as they had developed it. The film was the result of the collaborative process." And Uncle Vanya, the eponymous main character, is very memorably played by Wallace Shawn.

I also agree with you that Tolstoy calls for long-arc, long-narrative storytelling. It's too bad that, as far as I know, no one has tried to do a (mini)series based on a Russian novel. They've done English novels, no? I think the BBC did a multi-episode adaptation of Middlemarch. But to do Tolstoy or Dostoevsky right takes a certain dark sensibility-- something different from the usual BBC/ PBS gentility.

Sunslut7 said...

ANN,
I would rather see Milla Jovovich in the staring role, but with dark auburn hair like in the book.

Keira has many fine acting qualities but this role is not appropriate for her, IMHO.

deborah said...

Knightly ruined an otherwise well-done Pride and Prejudice with her mugging for the camera.

I haven't read Karenina, but have it on Kindle, probably in a lesser translation. But the book does have one of the best first lines, I think: "Happy families are all happy in the same way; while unhappy families are unhappy in different ways." Somthing, like that.

Stephen St. Onge said...

Hollywood has made Gatsby maybe three times now, and it bombed every time. Why expect this one to be different?

CWJ said...

Short answer. Baz Luhrman.